codeine

Codeine: What To Know About This Opiate

Posted: August 25, 2020
Updated: September 3, 2020

What You’ll Learn In This Substance Abuse Resource

Codeine is an opiate drug that is seemingly weak, but it’s highly addictive, similar to morphine. It’s not very easy to overdose on it but it’s entirely possible. It’s very easy to get addicted to codeine because it’s readily available as an over-the-counter medicine.

Because this drug is highly addictive and easily accessible, we’ll explain what it’s used for, how people know it in the medical world, and the street names it usually goes by. We’ll also touch grounds on what forms it is available, effects and dangers of using Codeine, as well as the signs and symptoms that are visible when a person is abusing.


Understanding Codeine

Codeine is a drug that acts as an opiate and it’s used to bring pain relief and minimize coughing. Although codeine is used as a perscription medicine it’s extremely addictive just like all opiate drugs. Codeine is like a younger sibling of morphine, since they have the same chemical structure. Sadly, in many countries, this drug is available to people as an over-the-counter medicine which makes it much more accessible. People often use codeine in combination with aspirin or acetaminophen to increase the effects.

What other names does Codeine go by?

  • Primary Name: Codeine
  • Scientific Name(s): Methylmorphine, Codeine anhydrous, Codicept, l-Codeine 
  • Street Name(s): Sizzurp, Lean, Act, Texas Tea, Captain Cody, Cody, Little C, Schoolboy, Purple Drank

What forms does Codeine come in?

Codeine comes in a few different forms. It can be found in the form of small white pills or tablets, it is mostly commonly found as a syrup resembling a cough syrup, but sometimes it’s mixed into a solution that can be injected directly into the bloodstream.

How Do People Consume Codeine?

Depending on what form the codeine is people take it differently. When it’s in pills or tablets form, people often take it along with other medications to increase the effects by swallowing. When it comes as a cough syrup than people take sips from it to experience the high and sometimes people mix it with other ingredients to create a solution that can be injected.

  • Injection – mixed into a solution and injected
  • Drinking – when it is in syrup form and packed in a bottle
  • Swallowing – when it’s in pills or tablets form

The Dangers + Effects of Codeine

The primary effects of codeine are cough suppression and relief of pain and it’s a very effective solution when you’re trying to get some pain relief. It can stimulate the receptors in the brain which are in charge of emitting positive feelings. Using codeine makes people feel euphoric and relaxed.

Because codeine is an opiate and it’s highly addictive the dangers of using this drug are many. When the high passes and the effects of the drug fade away it produces the reverse feelings making you feel even more pain and the possibility of feeling paranoid, anxious, and depressed.

When people use codeine for a long period of time they will develop an addiction to the drug and will be at great psychological risk. The dangers of using it for a long time include coughing, vomiting, nausea, constipation, and itching.

Some of the negative side effects of using codeine include bowel dysfunctions, coma, constipation, depression, mood swings, liver malfunction, low blood pressure, low oxygen levels, clouded thinking, brain damage, sleep disorders and so on.

Signs + Symptoms of Codeine Abuse 

Symptoms of Codeine Abuse are hard to detect, as each individual uses and abuses the drug in different quantities. Below we breakdown the list of common symptoms and signs, varying from moderate abuse to severe.

Physical Symptoms

  • Aggressive Weight Loss
  • Muscle Twitches
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Rashes
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Dry Mouth
  • Constipation
  • Decreased Libido
  • Blue Fingernails & Lips
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Hypotension (Low Blood-Pressure)

Psychological Symptoms

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Memory Loss
  • Lack of Emotions

Behavior and Mood Signs

  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Apathy
  • Anxiety
  • Mood Swings
  • Drowsiness & Sleepiness
  • Prescription Forgery & Doctor Shopping

Overdosing on Codeine

Because codeine isn’t as potent as other opiates, overdosing on it is quite hard to do, however, it is entirely possible. Some people are breaking down the drug faster than others and those are at the highest risk of getting codeine overdose because they would take more of it to feel the effects. When a person has overdosed on codeine they would feel chest pains, extreme fatigue, halted breathing, loss of consciousness, pinpoint pupils, shallow breathing, sluggish pulse, slow breathing, frequent vomiting, blue skin, and lips. A person overdosed on codeine would have clammy and cold skin too. If a person overdosed on codeine the proper course of action would be to rush to the emergency room because there’s a high chance of getting brain damage or even end up in death.

Who is impacted by Codeine Addiction?

Codeine is often prescribed for people who had issues with pain and needed pain relief so the group that is at most risk of getting addicted to codeine are patients who were prescribed this drug to deal with their physical pain. The reason behind people getting addicted to codeine is the withdrawal symptoms they may experience once their treatment is over which are very unpleasant.

Drug Testing or Detection

Depending on a person’s physical attributes such as size, weight, liver functionality as well as the duration of use, dosage, and frequency of use the detection times might differ. Usually, a urine test can detect traces of codeine use up to 48 hours up to a week for people who abuse codeine. The saliva test can detect codeine up to 21 hours while hair tests can detect codeine up to 10 weeks after last use.

Codeine Abuse Statistics, Laws, Punishments

  • 33 million users: Around 33 million people are using codeine each year 
  • 152% rise in emergency room visits: Between 2004 and 2008, the emergency room visits by people using painkillers has increased by 152%
  • 4.7 million people used codeine for non-medical purposes in America: In 2008 4.7 million Americans reported using Codeine and other Painkillers recreationally. 

Laws + Punishments

Codeine is classified as a class B drug which makes it illegal to have it with you, sell it or give it away. Illegal possession of the drug may result in 5 years in prison, a fine, or both combined while selling it may result in a prison sentence up to 14 years, a fine, or both. Driving under the influence of codeine may result in a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison time. If someone is selling codeine illegally in a place of business such as a bar, club, or a hostel, the police can prosecute the owner and the manager of the place.